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Scientists Question Safety of New Airport Scanners

Soulskill posted more than 3 years ago | from the don't-bombard-your-customers-with-radiation dept.

Transportation 357

An anonymous reader sends this quote from a story at NPR about the accelerated deployment of new scanning machines at airports: "Fifty-two of these state-of-the-art machines are already scanning passengers at 23 US airports. By the end of 2011, there will be 1,000 machines and two out of every three passengers will be asked to step into one of the new machines for a six-second head-to-toe scan before boarding. About half of these machines will be so-called X-ray back-scatter scanners. They use low-energy X-rays to peer beneath passengers' clothing. That has some scientists worried. ... The San Francisco group thinks both the machine's manufacturer, Rapiscan, and government officials have miscalculated the dose that the X-ray scanners deliver to the skin — where nearly all the radiation is concentrated. The stated dose — about .02 microsieverts, a medical unit of radiation — is averaged over the whole body, members of the UCSF group said in interviews. But they maintain that if the dose is calculated as what gets deposited in the skin, the number would be higher, though how much higher is unclear."

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357 comments

The main danger is (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32241724)

People getting in fights over their cock size.

Re:The main danger is (5, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241784)

The fact that we soon may not be able to board an airplane without a government bureaucrat looking at our cocks is ample proof that the terrorists won. Fucking FUD -- all that we needed after 9/11 was a locked cockpit door.

Re:The main danger is (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32241930)

You can't build a jobs program around a locked cockpit door.

Re:The main danger is (-1, Flamebait)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242154)

Fail.

The last people who wanted to build a jobs program were the Bush administration.

Re:The main danger is (0, Troll)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242134)

Fail.

A locked cockpit door would just keep the screams of the passengers from reaching the pilots as the aircraft split in two from the bomb. It would do nothing to alleviate the need to search people and luggage getting on aircraft.

Re:The main danger is (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32242318)

Fail.

The thing that makes an aircraft so interesting as a target is because it can fly anywhere. If you can't reach the cockpit the aircraft is no more intresting as a target than for example a train or a bus.
For some reason we don't need to strip-search bus or train passengers so to me it sure seems like this would solve the problem.

You see, one of the best ways to be protected is to not be a target.

Re:The main danger is (2, Insightful)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242486)

Fail. You don't need to reach the cockpit. You just need the message, "I have a bomb" to reach the cockpit.

Re:The main danger is (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32242578)

Fail. If the cockpit door is locked, no messages get through. Just train the flight attendants to not want to talk to the pilots, ever. Put just enough resentment in the crew.

Re:The main danger is (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242366)

No, you fail. I didn't say we didn't need to search luggage or people. All I said was that you could have prevented 9/11 with a locked cockpit door. The plane itself may still be a target but we can mitigate that risk to manageable levels without forcing people to go through machines that paint picture perfect images of their genitalia.

Re:The main danger is (2, Insightful)

b0bby (201198) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242386)

The risks from bombs was understood & mitigated for a long time before 9/11. The use of the plane itself as weapon was new, and OP is right - that problem is solved with a locked cockpit door. Sure you still need to screen, but that was always the case.

Re:The main danger is (4, Insightful)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242462)

There has not been a midair bombing of a plane since December 1988 with Pan AM Flight 103, and that was a non US flight.

If you are afraid of bombs on a airplane, you really need to go get therapy for your paranoia. It's not healthy and is probably a danger to those around you.

Re:The main danger is (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242590)

How is a flight on an American airline traveling to New York City considered a "non US flight"?

Re:The main danger is (4, Insightful)

Monkeedude1212 (1560403) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242526)

When was the last bomb that set off on an airplane? 85?

They started searching luggage - and that has worked. The whole body scanner is a solution to a problem solved years ago. It does nothing to assist the need to search people and luggage prior to boarding a plane. People got used to the idea of being patted down at an airport.

In recent news, all of the failed bomb attempts have been mostly due to shoddy materials or poor bomb makers. The Government is using that as an example of how their efforts are working over in the Middle East. They claim that they are being successful in taking out bomb makers and that the third or fourth string recruits are the only ones left, and they are failing.

I'd be fine and dandy with that if it meant they could take out the body scanners and Lax airport security a bit. Have they found any bombs since introducing the body scanners? If so, why aren't they reporting them? If not, then they aren't necessary.

Any arguement you make about Scanners making things safer, I can also say that routine police raids into your home to ransack and a search for weapons couldn't equally achieve. Would you consent to your neighbours taking nude photos of you anytime you wanted to leave your house? At what point does invasion of privacy become acceptable? Because body scanners have definately crossed some lines.

On top of all of that, are you also willing to risk your health?

Re:The main danger is (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242224)

a locked cockpit door and a the metal detectors at Boston's Logan airport set to the correct threshold.

Re:The main danger is (5, Insightful)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242236)

Completely agreed. I don't know which is worse - the fact that people can't accept that the risk from terrorism is minimal, or the fact that an awful lot of this is simply security theatre which probably won't be exposed as such because the threat is minimal.

I've mentioned it a few times before, but one of the major reasons I refuse to believe the sincerity of measures like this scanning technology is that one can purchase large glass bottles in any airport departure lounge. A glass bottle is a far more effective weapon than many of the other items that they'll confiscate from hand luggage, yet I've never even seen the issue mentioned.

Re:The main danger is (1)

mh1997 (1065630) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242688)

I've mentioned it a few times before, but one of the major reasons I refuse to believe the sincerity of measures like this scanning technology is that one can purchase large glass bottles in any airport departure lounge. A glass bottle is a far more effective weapon than many of the other items that they'll confiscate from hand luggage, yet I've never even seen the issue mentioned.

A pen and pencil are also very effective weapons.

Re:The main danger is (1)

toastar (573882) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242718)

Completely agreed. I don't know which is worse - the fact that people can't accept that the risk from terrorism is minimal, or the fact that an awful lot of this is simply security theatre which probably won't be exposed as such because the threat is minimal.

I've mentioned it a few times before, but one of the major reasons I refuse to believe the sincerity of measures like this scanning technology is that one can purchase large glass bottles in any airport departure lounge. A glass bottle is a far more effective weapon than many of the other items that they'll confiscate from hand luggage, yet I've never even seen the issue mentioned.

With apologies to the late great comedian:

Personally I think we shouldn't let anyone with really big hands on an airplane.

Re:The main danger is (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32242498)

Not to mention the fact that after a couple of attacks the USA suddenly became the world experts on terrorism. It's funny if you think that UK have been dealing with terrorists far long more and that it was a lot less stressful and safe to travel.

But since every country need to kiss USA's butt security measures were enforced all over the world for no reason.

Also you can buy matches, zippos, glass items at the duty free shops past security and some carriers give you metal forks and knives in first class (eg. Air France).

Still you could choke anyone you want with a perfectly legal ethernet cable/power cord.

hang on slashdot (1, Troll)

nimbius (983462) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241798)

didnt these types of scanners get covered a few months ago with negative side effects from a scientific study proclaiming evidence the radiation can unzip DNA?

how about this for airport security: stop blowing up brown people and start working with countries other than china, canada, and mexico to ensure we're better global citizens...

Re:hang on slashdot (3, Insightful)

Opportunist (166417) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242024)

Your idea could actually work and, worse, eliminate the reason to wage war, which would cost thousands of jobs in the defense industry. Thus, sorry, but I think we have to reject it.

Re:hang on slashdot (0, Offtopic)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242392)

I work in defense and would gladly give-up my job if the U.S. vs. Whoever war ended next month. Peace is preferable to war, and I can learn to do something else (maybe coding for Linux or ReactOS).

Re:hang on slashdot (4, Insightful)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242070)

didnt these types of scanners get covered a few months ago with negative side effects from a scientific study proclaiming evidence the radiation can unzip DNA?

No, that's millimeter wave [wikipedia.org] , which is the other type of full body scanner. Both backscatter X-ray and millimeter wave scanners cause cancer, they just do it in different ways.

Either way, you won't see me setting foot anywhere NEAR one of those scanners. If enough people demand to be hand searched that it brings air travel to a grinding halt, maybe this bullshit will stop.

Re:hang on slashdot (1)

lazorz (1544583) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242212)

Actually, can you request to be hand searched without going through the scanner, or do you HAVE to go through it?

Re:hang on slashdot (4, Informative)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242292)

Looks like it's mandatory [timesonline.co.uk] .

Re:hang on slashdot (4, Informative)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242716)

In the U.K.

Everywhere else but the U.K., you have a fundamental right to be hand searched. That's why I've decided that instead of going through Heathrow like I usually do, for future trips to Europe, I'll be flying through Charles de Gaulle instead.

For everyone who thinks U.S. air travel policies are absurd, the U.S. allows you to request a manual search. Only the U.K. is so fascist that they will not allow hand searches.

Re:hang on slashdot (1)

yotto (590067) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242394)

You don't HAVE to do anything. Unless you want to get on the plane.

That's why I choose ahead of time to not get on the plane. Or go into the airport.

Driving may take more time and cost more money, but it's a hole lot prettier and nobody assumes I'm a terrorist.

Re:hang on slashdot (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242474)

Driving may take more time and cost more money

When you find a way to drive from the United States to Europe and Australia let me know. I'd like to visit both locales again during my lifetime :(

Re:hang on slashdot (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242568)

I'm more than aware that "don't fly" is, at best, a poor option, but if you've got some extra time there's always sea travel, which is actually often a lot of fun. Costs are variable, and can be very steep, but it's often possible to pay a reasonable rate for a spare room on a working ship (usually a big freighter).

Re:hang on slashdot (2, Interesting)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242708)

I'm more than aware that "don't fly" is, at best, a poor option, but if you've got some extra time there's always sea travel, which is actually often a lot of fun.

I would love to take a sea voyage. Only problem is that it's time consuming and not real feasible unless I want to quit my job :(

So it looks like my choices are to submit to the Orwellian security theater or abandon my desires to travel around the world and limit myself to exploring the United States and Canada. *sigh*, the fucking terrorists won....

Re:hang on slashdot (4, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242488)

Technically you have a choice, but given the monkeys that work for security today, they probably don't know that. They will insist vehemently that you HAVE to be scanned, just as they held-up this guy for carrying a lot of cash (not an illegal act): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c0SXuclz47Y [youtube.com]

People in authority often make-up laws ("You must comply") right on the spot even when the actual law says otherwise.

Re:hang on slashdot (0, Flamebait)

vlm (69642) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242700)

Both backscatter X-ray and millimeter wave scanners cause cancer

False. I know quite a bit about RF and millimeter wave is harmless. Just the typical american content-free knee jerk response of don't understand = scared. Go ahead, just try to provide any logical explanation other than "I don't understand physics therefore mm-wave must be evil".

X-ray, in comparison, is not good for you.

Re:hang on slashdot (4, Insightful)

MikeURL (890801) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242798)

So my options are a scan with a machine that has unknown health effects OR having a strange man give me an airport massage?

Those are some lousy options. Further, I'm ready to vote for ANYONE who will repeal this. Do you hear that politicians? Anyone. Anyone with the guts to stand up and call this useless security theater will have my vote, my money, my support on every internet forum that I can spam, etc.

Re:hang on slashdot (0, Flamebait)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242188)

Fail.

We'd blow up white people too if they were the ones shouting "Jihad!" and strapping C4 to their children.

Re:hang on slashdot (1, Flamebait)

yotto (590067) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242424)

We'd blow up white people too if they were the ones shouting "Jihad!" and strapping C4 to their children.

So watch out, Teabaggers.

Re:hang on slashdot (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32242530)

how about this for airport security: stop blowing up brown people and start working with countries other than china, canada, and mexico to ensure we're better global citizens...

To ensure *we're* better global citizens?

How about the little brown cocksuckers be better global citizens and stop blowing us up first? Then we'd be more amenable to leaving them to do whatever the fuck they want in their own damn countries. When they export their jihad to us they're going to have to expect that we're not going to take kindly to it and will most likely pay their countries a visit and blow lots of shit right-the-fuck up to non-verbally communicate just how fucking unhappy we are.

Re:hang on slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32242826)

Yes let's be better global citizens ignoring the fact that already if you're a foreigner in China you're very likely to have been sent through a back-scatter radiation scan without your consent.

Reason #76 (4, Insightful)

Itninja (937614) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241802)

To never use commercial airflight again.

Re:Reason #76 (1)

godrik (1287354) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242558)

I wish I had the choice. I travel for work between the us and europe at least 4 times a year. Taking a boat is not really a comparable solution...

Oh please. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32242712)

Ok, who smoked their dope and decided to mod this Insightful?

Let's look at the alternatives:

a) Non-commercial flight. You have two options: rent or buy a private airplane or attempt the do-it-yourself-armchair-and-helium-balloon idea. One's very expensive, eliminating it for the majority of the population. The other will assure that you'll never fly again, because you'll be dead.

b) Use an alternate method of transportation. By land, take a train (because if you can drive it, you wouldn't fly it). For trans-oceanic flight, take a boat. Both options are slow and expensive when compared to an aircraft. And if you know your history, one option involves the risk of developing scurvy.

Look, nobody likes being thought of as a potential terrorist. But at least you don't need to bend over for a special exam every time you show up at the airport.

Sterilization....the easy way! (2, Insightful)

ImpShial (1045486) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241806)

Need a vascectomy? Fly the friendly skies instead! The more miles you log, the fewer kids you'll spawn!

Re:Sterilization....the easy way! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32242218)

Will these scanners work with wheelchairs?

Re:Sterilization....the easy way! (1)

blueg3 (192743) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242640)

This is already true, without the X-ray imagers. In fact, a scan from the imager only gives you radiation equivalent to a few minutes in an airplane -- the flight itself does a much better job.

Idiotic (5, Insightful)

FrankSchwab (675585) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241860)

Regardless of the health issues, why should I be electronically strip-searched when the next terrorist is going to shove explosives up his ass and remove/detonate them during flight?

What invasion of privacy is going to happen after that event?

Re:Idiotic (5, Funny)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241900)

What invasion of privacy is going to happen after that event?

I'm not sure but I suspect that K-Y Jelly will be involved.

Re:Idiotic (3, Funny)

B2382F29 (742174) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241980)

I'm not sure but I suspect that K-Y Jelly will be involved.

If you're lucky... I think you'll get the K-Y Jelly in first class only...

Re:Idiotic (1)

FrankSchwab (675585) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242076)

Great, I only fly coach.

Does this mean that the "inspector" is just going to spit?

Re:Idiotic (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242288)

No, business class gets spit. Coach passengers get no lube at all and the examiners will use rods with spikes on them.....

Re:Idiotic (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242102)

Sad but true. I have this image in my head of the future of air travel. Picture an explosive decompression. Oxygen masks drop from the overhead in first class. Coach travelers get a credit card reader. "Please swipe your credit card here for 5 minutes of oxygen...."

Re:Idiotic (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242184)

Washington, DC - Newly installed director of the FBI, Warren B. Upass, has announced a registry for all K-Y jelly and related "intimate lubricants".

"Clearly," Upass said in a recent press release, "the terrorists who threaten our fine, upstanding heterosexual way of life will be shoving bombs up their anuses. We need to be one step ahead of the terrorists. From now on every purchaser of intimate lubricants will have to provide their name, phone number and nearest cheap motel to the FBI. In the meantime, I am personally overseeing the new Anal Bomb Lab, with the hopes that we can produce a device that can scan the rectal area for explosive devices."

Re:Idiotic (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32242740)

Sorry, no fluids on the plane

Nobody cares (5, Insightful)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241874)

There's already been studies looking at changes in gene expression following millimeter-wave irradiation of skin: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18302488 [nih.gov]

Overall, given the reviews of the literature it's still unclear whether there's a potential for long-term health damage.

However, even if there was, I doubt anyone will care. The security theater must be kept up, even if it means that people would be harmed by repeated exposure.

"Sir, we will protect you from yourself, even if it kills you".

itis not the same (3, Informative)

aepervius (535155) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242074)

Backscatter x ray is *not* the same as millimeter wave. Millimeter wave is about of the order of magnitude of milli-electron volt and not an ionizing radiation energy. OTOH x ray is at least on the order of magnitude from 100 electron volt and is definitively an ionizing radiation. There is a reason they were measuring the amount of radiation absorbed in millisievert, whereas for millimeter wave scanner there is no concern (around near infrared).

Scanning Containers on Trucks? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242616)

Can someone tell me about the scanners for containers in ports? My neighbor is a trucker, and he asked me about that. Apparently, as the driver, he has to go through the scanner himself pretty frequently (it's the port of Oakland in California if that makes a difference).

Re:itis not the same (1)

TheMeuge (645043) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242620)

Thanks for correcting me. I'm writing my thesis, so my brain is deep-fried.

have fun ! (1)

aepervius (535155) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242668)

I remember writing mine, by the end I was very brain adled. But I look back at that time with fondness :). Afterward it can get even worst trying to find a post doc :p.

Re:Nobody cares (5, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242348)

On thing the article points out is that the level of x-ray radiation you receive during your flight (because of the high altitude) is going to be higher than the amount of radiation you're going to get from the scanner. Essentially spending 4 minutes at cruising altitude will expose you to the same level as the machine.

Also, the average person in the average year receives 3,000 microsieverts of radiation just from the environment (cosmic radiation, etc). So the .02 received from the machine is probably negligible, unless it really is significantly concentrated in certain places on the skin.

Re:Nobody cares (1)

Linux_ho (205887) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242570)

I strongly doubt millimeter wavelength radiation (somewhere around microwave/low IR) is going to cause any problems unless it's at such high magnitude that it actually causes tissue heating. These scanners probably operate at 1-10nm. Very high energy. Even at very low intensity, X-ray radiation imposes some risk of DNA damage. But I'd probably be more concerned about cataracts in frequent flyers and airport security employees. http://lowdose.energy.gov/abstracts/kleiman_cataract.aspx [energy.gov]

Whatever it takes... (5, Insightful)

Ryvar (122400) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241876)

I don't honestly care whether there's a real medical issue here. I don't care if it takes Fox News-style "gotcha" tactics to make the hysterical cries of "THINK OF THE CHILDREN" echo up and down the corridors of the powerful.

Anything that kills this program needs to be seized upon, hyped, spun into something it's probably truthfully not - the lies and paranoia that have been eating away at us like a cancer need to be repurposed toward actually helping us.

--Ryv

Re:Whatever it takes... (3, Funny)

DarkKnightRadick (268025) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242078)

the lies and paranoia that have been eating away at us like a cancer need to be repurposed toward actually helping us.

Or, you know, we could just stop lying. (:

Re:Whatever it takes... (1)

Ryvar (122400) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242528)

The truth is that there is little to nothing society can do against lone individuals or extremely small groups bent on damaging it. Better technology and increasing reliance upon technology necessarily create more opportunities for disruption. Dependency chains for the features in our lives are growing longer, and it's increasingly easy to find weak links.

As a society we can't bear to face the truth of this, so we use lies to pretend the problem doesn't exist. You can't change people at the level necessary to prevent this, so you have to make sure that the lies you do tell them are less damaging to personal freedom ...and where possible more damaging to corporate freedom.

--Ryv

The millimeter back scanner... (4, Informative)

pizzach (1011925) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242260)

Every time your 5-year-old child steps through, it's just like you made them smoke a cigarette. Would you make your 5-year-old child smoke a cigarette?

Re:Whatever it takes... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242406)

No, doing things for the wrong reason gives science a bad name, and often gives you unpleasant side effects. Consider that allowing people to think that radiation can never be handled safely may push the transition to nuclear power plants out even further (even though they are a safe, green alternative).

Love the company name (1)

Em Emalb (452530) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241926)

Rapisca. Rape is Ca? Rape is Canadian? WTF? Is this some weird product from Canada, like the Penis Mightier?

(Well does it work? C'mon man! Tell me!)

Re:Love the company name (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242196)

Well, it was Canadians who decided that rapeseed oil wasn't good enough, and started calling it canola oil.

Issue not with the passengers (5, Interesting)

jacks smirking reven (909048) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241942)

As someone who has done a fair share of work in airports (digital signage) and has been badged in a couple of term, I can say this from observation and from talking to people in the airports and the TSA, the issue is not the passengers, it's the workers. The passengers are checked to ridiculous measures, but if you work at an airport your protocols are entirely different. All the tarmac entrances and any "employee only" entrance isn't guarded by the TSA, but rather independent security companies hired by the airports themselves, so every airports strictness at these points are anywhere from stricter or far more lax, especially if you're a regular employee that they recognize. I have had to throw gear into the back of an electricians truck many many a time and driven it onto the tarmac without them opening or even swabbing the boxes. At that point I am less then 30ft away from a 767.

All this extra effort at the checkpoints is to keep up what most people here already know what it is. The illusion of absolute safety in a system where it can never be guaranteed 100%.

Re:Issue not with the passengers (5, Informative)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242280)

The passengers are checked to ridiculous measures, but if you work at an airport your protocols are entirely different

That's an understatement. I have a friend who used to work at the local airport. I've been on behind the scenes tours with him and the security folks (ranging from TSA, to law enforcement to rent-a-cops) never even batted an eyelash when he took me past the checkpoint. They didn't ask me to go through the metal/explosives detectors or to wear a guest badge of some sort. We just walked right past them and my friend says "He's with me." Granted, this is a small town airport with not a lot of activity (three flights per day) but the ease with which it was possible to get into the secured areas seemed to make a mockery of all the FUD we've been fed about airport security. It occurs to me that if somebody wanted to do bad things he could just buy off the right person(s) at the airport to gain access.

Re:Issue not with the passengers (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242580)

Dude, you realize that all I have to do is go to one of the private or corporate hangers and dress correctly and I can get on the tarmac without anyone even questioning me?

I was dressed wrong, had my tool box and a huge cardboard box of equipment that I walked from Hangar A to the other side past commercial aircraft and nobody even stopped to ask me what I was doing.

airport security, even at O-hare is a utter joke. It's not just theater, it's cardboard cutouts.

Re:Issue not with the passengers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32242636)

Yep, I do a lot of work out at a major U.S. Airport and to get in on the tarmac you just have to have 1 badged person per every 6 un-badged people. The 6 un-badged just have to present a driver's license to get in.
At my company we feel fairly secure that the people we bring in are safe, and the badged person is supposedly responsible for keeping an eye on them... but it would be pretty easy for a determined terrorist to get themselves in a position to do damage.

One construction company was working near our crew and when they went to lunch they left all their demolition tools sitting out with no one watching them. The TSA and homeland security didn't like that and questioned our guys' thoroughly before realizing it wasn't us that had left the sledgehammers, axes and knives sitting out unguarded. The offending company was threatened with having their contract and all their badges pulled, but in the end they weren't even fined.

I am an employer at an airport (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32242802)

I DO NOT have a security clearance. But I have a card from an airline (I am a simple check-in peon...). One time I went in the back of a big itnernational hub airport to find a better way with bicycle to go to work. At some point I found myself on the FRAKING TARMAC and nobody had stopped me. I got angsty that some camera sees me and I lose my job so I went away quickly. But yeah, the back yard of many airport is not much protected. Those security ? They are not always for show, but mostly they stop dumb people. The real reason no terrorist try that shit anymore is that it ain't worth the effort and planning.

Next on Fox... (4, Insightful)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241944)

"Why Does Liberal Academia Hate Security?"

Re:Next on Fox... (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242126)

I'd just like to point out that only three or four posts up another slashdotter was slamming Fox for soon publishing a panicky 'think of the children' piece.

Re:Next on Fox... (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242330)

The thing about Fox is you can never guess what particular crazed, easily ridiculed direction they're going to lunge in next. They just make the jokes come so easily...

Re:Next on Fox... (0, Troll)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242438)

Yeah, no.

The thing about Fox is they've become a whipping boy around here, without regard for occasionally checking with reality as a basis.

In my humble opinion, and even though I don't particularly care for that channel, it diminishes us all to blame one media outlet for this behavior when they ALL do it.

Re:Next on Fox... (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242258)

Fail.

"Academia" has three syllables. Use "Elites" instead.

Re:Next on Fox... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32242540)

Fail.

"Academia" has three syllables.

I count five.

Re:Next on Fox... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32242674)

It has five. Try again next time, moron.

i could be wrong (3, Interesting)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 3 years ago | (#32241976)

but i read somewhere that the simple act of flying is equivalent to getting an x-ray because you're so high in the atmosphere

i also read that living in denver for a year is equivalent to getting an xray (as compared to living in say miami: at sea level, rather than a mile up)

not that i'm justifying these scanners, but if you're worried about extra unnecessary irradiation, then don't fly (or live in the mountains)

its too much of a hassle anyways, even without the scanners, flying sucks

Re:i could be wrong (5, Informative)

Ultimate Heretic (1058480) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242176)

You are correct. One of the highest radiation dose jobs in the world is pilot, followed by co-pilot and flight attendant. This is drilled into those taking radiation safety courses. Of course, one must be aware of the different affects the specific energy particles/rays have on DNA to give a complete picture of the long term hazards. Interestingly enough, the NPR piece, which had an expert stating that they were not worried about excessive x-ray dosages from equipment malfunction, was immediately followed by one on the accidental excessive x-ray doses from medical scanners. Whoops!

Re:i could be wrong (1)

Patch86 (1465427) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242434)

Surely if you're already getting a hefty dose of radiation every time you fly, the last thing you want to do is give someone another hefty dose of radiation.

Re:i could be wrong (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242468)

I seem to recall the party line is that the radiation from one of the scanners is about two minutes of flight time. Of course the government would never lie to use or misstate facts, would it?

We need to kill this thing but I don't think we can do so on safety grounds. Better to appeal to genital insecurity and think of the children panic, in my mind.

This or full body cavity search Take your pick! (0, Troll)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242022)

This or full body cavity search Take your pick!

Re:This or full body cavity search Take your pick! (1)

BobMcD (601576) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242140)

This or full body cavity search Take your pick!

Hmm. One might kill me. The other might cause me to kill you. Decisions, decisions...

Re:This or full body cavity search Take your pick! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#32242356)

If full body cavity searches become the norm, I'll develop a ritual of Taco Bell with a side of curry the night before every single flight.

Re:This or full body cavity search Take your pick! (1)

calmofthestorm (1344385) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242492)

Becuase they full body cavity search 2/3 of people who fly? Wow, the odds of my never being searched (which I wasn't) are like 1/11057332

But no one cares about cosmic ray exposure... (2, Informative)

ThreeGigs (239452) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242040)

Cosmic rays at 30,000 feet, plus other ionizing radiation is significantly higher than at ground level. 4 hours on a plane is something like a month's worth of ground-level exposure. Yet people still fly. I don't think this will have any impact on air travel.

Re:But no one cares about cosmic ray exposure... (2, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242514)

Quit exaggerating. The background radiation level doubles every 6,000 feet, so an entire 24-hour day at 30,000 feet is like a month on the ground. A four hour flight is roughly the equivalent of 5 days on the ground.

Also, remember that radiation exposure is considered cumulative. There is no safe level of radiation exposure. The more you are exposed to, the greater your risk of death, period. Thus, it is utterly irrelevant whether the backscatter machine only adds... say a tenth as much radiation as the rest of the flight. That's still 10% more than you would have gotten otherwise. (And yes, I pulled that number out of thin air solely for example purposes.)

Besides, if you need to get somewhere quickly, the radiation absorbed while flying is an unavoidable risk. The radiation from backscatter machines isn't. It's like the worry about CT scans. Do they increase cancer risk? Yes. Are they sometimes medically necessary? Also yes. So the risk outweighs the damage when they are medically necessary, but nobody in their right minds would argue that everyone admitted to the hospital should get a full-body CT scan just in case one of them has something wrong. (I know we're talking about several orders of magnitude difference in dosage here, but the principle is still the same.)

Re:But no one cares about cosmic ray exposure... (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242724)

Even though you're sitting in a Faraday cage? Citation please! I'll take one of my wife's x-ray badges next time I go through the airport, they will be analyzed to see if you've been exposed to an unhealthy amount of x-ray radiation.

Oh c'mon! (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242234)

Who here isn't willing to sacrifice a few years off their lives to protect our children from people with a bomb laden (please!) SUV in their underwear?

flying is 5 microsevierts an hour (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242660)

A couple of orders of magnitude more for the average flight. That would be whole-body, not skin.

Not about us (1)

drumcat (1659893) | more than 3 years ago | (#32242794)

Clearly the TSA values the planes higher than the commodity of We The Travelers. The planes cost more than the people, thus the people get shat upon.
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